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Full text of "My Country And My People"

286          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

minutes, after which the alcoholic effect would have already
vanished.

Back of all this drunkenness, however, there was a very fine
philosophy of painting. The Chinese painter-scholars, who
left behind a tremendous amount of very profound art criticism,
distinguished between ksing, or the objects9 physical forms, K9
or the inner law or spirit, and jz, or the artist's own conception.
The "scholars' painting" was a protest against slavish veri-
similitude, of which it would be easy to give quotations, from
the earliest to modern times. The Sung scholars emphasized
especially li—the inner spirit of things. Mere accuracy of
detail was the work of commercial artists, whereas painting
worthy of the name of an art should aim at catching the spirit*
It was not just mere drunkenness.

But the fact that such painting was the work, not of pro-
fessional artists but of scholars at play, was of profound sig-
nificance. It was their spirit of amateurism which enabled
them to deal with painting in a light and pleasant spirit. For
during the eleventh century, when there was a brief outburst
of the spirit of "scholars' painting," such painting was referred
to as mohsi) or "play with ink." It was a pastime of the scholars
when they were in the playing mood, like calligraphy and like
poetry. There was no heaviness of spirit. It seemed as if the
scholar, after having obtained mastery of the brush in calligraphy,
had an exuberance of energy which he applied to art as a
pleasant and interesting change. The material equipment was
the same: the same scrolls, the same brushes and the same ink
and water, and they were all there before his desk. For no
palette was necessary. Mi Fei, one of the greatest of scholar-
painters, sometimes used even a roll of paper for his brush, or
the pulp of sugar-cane, or the stalk of a lotus flower. When the
inspiration came and there was magic in the scholar's "wrist,"
there was nothing which seemed impossible to these artists.
For thty had mastered the art of conveying fundamental
rhythms, and everything else was secondary. There are to-day
painters who make sketches with their bare fingers, and one
even with his mobile tongue, dipped in ink and licking the
paper as he dra\vs along, Painting was, and still is, the scholar's
recreation.